Ben Mangels

I just got the word that Ben Mangels died back in 2015. Age 78. I lost touch with him about 2013. His wife got sick and he kind of dropped off the grid, so to speak. If you’ve been to some of my seminars his name comes up periodically. He left South Africa decades ago for several reasons and wound up in north Texas. He started training police (late 80s and early 90s) when the McKinney police department stumbled upon, and that was when I met him.

The seminars were great but when I enrolled in his regular Dallas area classes it was more or less classical Jujitsu in a gi (not BJJ Jiitsu) and I got that up where I lived already, minus the truly horrendous rush hour traffic to get down there and back at night. So instead, I stuck with the seminars, which was a mix of so-called military and police combatives that was his blend of karate, boxing and jujitsu (and knife fighting). While we wrestled over guns and rifles, we never did live fire.The seminars were great!

For several reasons I won’t publicly say here, he eventually left Dallas for the northwest USA.

Later, his daughter married a gun range guy (- innnn… Michigan? – I can’t remember where) and the son-in-law smartly tried to get him to teach a lot there. But that burned out and his wife got sick. So he stayed home.

His experience in the southern part of Africa would fill books. But, his public martial arts instructor persona would not allow for these experiences, but in the police training…wow. We would hear the stories. This guy did a lot. And you won’t read about it on the proper web bios. He told me once he was troubled with very bad nightmares. (His Rhodesian experiences and the South African “rebel,” “bush wars” are missing from his bios.) He ended up where he started, in the South African Military Police.

The last time we talked on the phone….2009? 2010?…he asked me if I would produce a series of videos with him. Of course I would. He would coordinate/teach and younger guys would actually fight on film. Then in the discussion, he asked me “could I be sued?” You know, if he showed something on film and somebody misused it. I said, “well, I guess its possible…but….” That was all he needed to hear and he didn’t want to make any series.

I was essentially a mere Mangels seminar attendee other that 3 month, few nights a week, stint at his classical class.  His biggest influence on me was his “rough and tumble attitude” and his knife material, as I tell people in seminars. It made me cut out a bunch of unnecessary knife material cluttering up my mind.

There was no one quite like Ben Mangels, that I’ve met anyway. I was able to “send/introduce” two of “our guys” who lived up northwest to train locally with him. One actually got a jujitsu black belt from him. Years ago. And here in Dallas, Kelly Redfive attended those Dallas classes (he lived nearby) and has great memories of him. We have to swap notes as he was in that regular jujitsu class and Kelly- not being a cop – could not attend those seminars. I missed a lot though by not going to those nightly classes. It was a rough jujitsu.

It’s a few years late but, goodbye Captain.

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

Coming December 1, 2018, Footwork and Maneuvering for the citizen, cop and soldier, standing to ground, hand, stick, knife, gun.

The Knife Whisperer – The Whispering Reverse Grip Tip

The Whisper Tip of the Reverse Grip

I’ve heard the whisper. Have you? The secret tip.

“If you see a guy hold a knife like this (reverse grip) watch out! He really knows what he is doing.” 

Said the tipster who knows nothing, anyway. A receiver from another tipster who knew nothing. I have heard that “insider tip” numerous times. One time, I was even told this tip by a guy who had never been in the Marines, but heard this tip from a “Marine friend.” The irony was I was in Triangle, VA, hotel restaurant next to the Marine base Quantico, there teaching Marines among other things – “knife.” Some of it saber grip knife.  

I have nothing against the reverse grip. I teach it too. But, how many times have you heard or been told, or been taught the reverse grip is the only grip to use? Because there are some popular courses out there preaching this idea. I am often both depressed and fascinated by the paths and ideas of various knife courses. Some appear to me like death cults, others have what seems to be oddball, incomplete conclusions.  Take for one example, the obsession with dueling. While dueling can happen, it is not the only thing that happens in a knife fight (ohhh, like ground fighting?)  Most never cover legal issues and just cut and stab away. Some way over-emphasize Sumbrada patterns. I could go on. Another is the various obsessions with knife grips.

In the 1980s, I was at a Dan Inosanto seminar and he said. “there is no one perfect knife grip, just the best one for the moment.”

Man! That little phrase stuck with me forever as a baseline. Sometimes I think I have short-changed myself as a teacher when I state my mission statement is total “hand, stick, knife, gun.” I think it subliminally shortchanges the 4 individual courses in the minds of practitioners. Courses of which I think are terrific, otherwise I would improve them or not teach them at all. I have slaved over these courses for decades to keep them simple and thorough. “Each course is stand-alone.” So, my stand-alone knife course seems to get buried inside this bigger mission – nomenclature.

I worry about knife grips too. With my Force Necessary: Knife course, I insist that a practitioner learn and experience BOTH the saber and reverse grips. Then after much COMPLETE study, they choose what their favorite grip is, based on the “who, what, where, when and how and why” of their lives. I never tell them to automatically favor any one grip. Pick one, but make it an EDUCATED choice (and not a whisper tip choice). I like both grips. But some don’t like or respect both grips and for odd and incomplete reasons.

The first time I received any training with a knife was in a Parker Kenpo class in about 1972 when they received Kenpo knives and dull trainers from Gil Hibben. The knife was designed to be held in a reverse grip and used in a kick boxing format. This initiation caused decades of Kenpo-ists to hold their knives in a reverse grip as though Moses, not Gil Hibbens, had handed them knives from the mountaintop. In the late 1990s I was teaching in a multi-instructor camp and a old Parker Kenpo black belt was there with his little group. I was covering saber grip material ( a pox! ) and he would horde his people over  into a corner and show them the “proper, reverse grip way” to fix what I was doing saber style. Which by the way his was more complicated and somewhat awkward than the simple saber material I was covering.  

Finally he had to approach me and said, “you know, the reverse grip is the superior grip.”

I said, “no it isn’t.”

He glared at me.

“You can do just as much or even more with a saber grip,” I added.

He stormed off – his 7th dan “master” self, all upset that someone younger in blue jeans and a polo shirt told him flat-out no. (oh, did I mention that he also makes and sells reverse-grip-only knives?) My next session by the way, I covered some reverse grip material, as I am…an equal opportunity stabber.

People pick grips for odd reasons too. I recently read from a guy writing about his grip choice. He said he once saw someone with a training knife, saber grip, stab a mitt and the guy’s hand slipped up on the blade. This made him pick the reverse grip. Really? That? Well, as a detective who has investigated knife crime for decades, I can tell you such slippage happens with BOTH saber AND reverse grips. It depends on the knife! It’s shape, handle texture and any guard/hilts, design, etc. Dear Reverser – your hand slips down on a reverse grip too. Jeez. In fact, a hammering reverse grip deals a mighty blow and your hand needs to be protected perhaps even more, versus an ice pick grip slip.

There are people and courses out there now that mandate the reverse grip, ignoring the saber grip, therefore treating the saber grip as worthless? Mindless followers argue that:

“well, the reverse grip is the Filipino way.”

“The reverse grip is the Pekiti Tirsia way.”

“Ex-super-copper Pete Smith says the reverse grip is the best.”

People! People….people. FMA does BOTH grips. Pekiti Tirsia also teaches tons of saber grip material. And Pete Smith? He is just, flat-out, wrong-headed about this. He is not as smart as you think. He is not as smart as he thinks.

And I will go you one more reverse grip oddity that’s worse. There is a sub-culture out there that wants you to fight reverse grip, with a single edge knife, with the one sharp side, “inside,” facing back at your body. Not edge out to the outside world, where the enemy bodies are attacking you, but edge back at you. Dull edge at the enemy. This is its own unique thinking disorder. The world you are fighting is OUT there, not in your armpit. And why must you hook and haul ALL your enemies, ALL the time inside and close to you? Can you? Can you hook ALL people, ALL the time, in for your one- trick, special magic?

You should have a double-edged knife, which is legal in some places, or you should have a knife with one complete sharp edge and the other side/edge   1/4,  ½ or ¾ sharp anyway. (the so-called “false edge,” a confusing term for “civilians.”) Then the edge-in-only argument becomes moot, because you can still slash and stab, and stab and slash the outside world. But to purposely plan and buy and limit yourself to one edge, then limit yourself with that edge-in only, is…is…just a thinking disorder. It’s a dangerous, thoughtless, thinking disorder. People even make up these excuses…

“Well this type of knife is meant for…”

“I like this type of knife because when the guy is here, I can….

“It works really good for getting his arm away when he’s choking me…”

The guy is…here? How’d he get there? Dude, your “meant for” list is too small when you consider all the possibilities you might face. So then, are you going to carry 3 or 4 different “meant-for” knives for when the he’s here, one for one he’s there, and two for when he’s everywhere?  To cover all your “meant-fors?” All knives work well on an arm when someone is choking you. Dude, maximize your survival with the most versatile knife. “Meant-for knives” is like putting 2 rounds in a six gun, and then carrying 3 pistols. 

Why in the world…WHY…buy a fighting, survival knife to save your life and the lives of others that is single-edged? And then…and then…carry it, and use it, edge inward?

You do know sometimes in a fight, things don’t always go as “stabbingly” as planned. The reverse grip, edge-OUT offers a slashing  possibility, an ADVANTAGE that might diminish the opponent. A double-edged, or 1/4 or 1/2 edge or 3/4s on the other side is ALWAYS going to be an advantage.

Reverse grip tip in accidents. When the Samurai commit suicide – seppuku – they do it with a reverse grip. There’s a reason for this. It’s easier. The tip is already aimed inward. (Incidentally, the helper that will kill him if he fails? Holds a saber grip.) This “easy-tip-inward” is one more point no one seems to consider when raving about reverse grips. The tip is often aimed back at you. About once every 4 weeks on the nightly reruns of the “Cops” TV show you can see a reverse grip knifer get tackled by cops. When they turn the suspect over? He was – “self-stabbed.” One of our lesson plans with the reverse grip is self-awareness of these maneuvering problems.

I cover dropping to the ground and we see people stab their thighs, and when tackled or shoved against the wall, we see the “Cops” incident of the accidental self-stabbing. Tell people to practice falling while holding a knife and watch the accidents. If people are running and holding a reverse grip knife, and they trip and fall? Watch out! There are more reverse grip “selfie” accidents than saber grip ones. Just be aware of this!

Having written my extensive and popular knife book, which took years, studying crime, war and forensic medicine, working cases and the streets, you discover that there are about some…what.. 30 or so ways to fight people with a saber grip and about 25 ways with a reverse group. But, after 8 ways each, does it matter? 

There are many pros and cons for each grip. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST THE REVERSE GRIP. I teach it also and I believe better and more thorough and thoughtful than most…or I wouldn’t try. I just don’t like the blind acceptance, the secret whisper about which grip is the best and which is to be ignored. And folks, the single-edge-inward version is just dangerous nonsense. And It bothers me that people thoughtlessly accept courses about these things. Question everything. Get educated. Then pick a knife and a grip you need for your world.

The knife is a very forgiving weapon, in that you can do a whole lot of screwed-up, stupid shit with a knife and get away with it. This is not an excuse to stay stupid. You have to think beyond that to create a comprehensive program and promote real knowledge.

Look, I really don’t care what grip you use as long as it is an EDUCATED, informed choice, and not some mindless, mandate from some short-sighted, and, or brainwashed person, or from that ignorant knife whisperer who knows somebody, who knew somebody else, who…

Some Responses:  “Years ago I was grappling with my training partner and had a wooden training knife in the reverse grip. Long story short, we went to the ground and I fell on the training knife and caught the tip in the ribs. That definitely made my eyes water. Since then I’m very iffy whether I’d ever use that grip with a live blade in a real situation. I still train both grips but I much prefer the saber grip due to the added reach, maneuverability, and the sharp end isn’t pointing back at me most of the time.” – Neil Ferguson, USA

“I was at a seminar where an “expert” told us that if we see a man using a knife in that grip to “Run! That man is a professional!”  First off, I’m gonna run either way genius! A twelve year old can get my wallet with a two inch folding knife. Stitches are expensive!  Furthermore most women use that grip when they stab. Are they professionals??” Zane Issacs, USA  (This leads us to wonder, do we not run when the man has a saber grip? – Hock)

*****

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

1400 how-to photos. 300 pages. Get the collector’s item hardcover, the over-sized paper back, or the spiral bound manual. Click here:

“And Hock, You Take the Back!”

Boys and girls! Another episode in the thrilling days of yesteryear Texas Policing…. 

When I walked onto the Criminal Investigation Division floor to start my evening shift, I could tell something was “up.”  The day shift guys were scrambling to get their tactical vests and assorted personal and standard-issue, shotguns.

“Hock!” said one, “Hurry up here!”

They directed me up to the third floor meeting room, which was a large room constructed like a small theater.

 “We will hit this house….”  …and the briefing went on, conducted by a SWAT team sergeant who also was a detective sergeant. I’ll just call him here, “Sgt Larry.”

Down in our city’s projects, in an old, two-story wooden, house bound for demolition, a local crack/cocaine dealer, ex-con named Willy Vics was running a dope house. It was a magnet for bad guys and hookers from the region. Our narc guys had a freshly signed warrant in their hands, growing stale by the minute.

 “David, Benny, Jeff…you three will enter here and will move upstairs…Tony…you…” and Sgt Larry laid out the plans while waiting for the warrant to be written and signed. There was a somewhat discreet effort to rest the SWAT team a bit in those days. Recently, a certain team had set a house on fire with a flash-bang that had ignited a curtain, and the house had burned down. And, well, there was a movement, you might call it, to tone down militant appearances a bit. At some point Sgt Larry decided some of his detectives should do this one, not our SWAT team. So, his chalkboard was filling up with tactical brilliance. White arrows were laid down aggressively, but there was a bit of a problem manifesting.

The back of the house. It emptied out to a big yard connected to a neighborhood of other yards. The arrows ran out of people to cover the escape routes! I would say there were at last eight detectives assigned arrows. Sgt Larry looked up at newly arrived me. I was gear-less at this point in a suit and tie,

“…and Hock…you take the back.” Huh? Famous last words. Okay. Me  The back. Take it. Pretty big back though.

A few of us had run dozens of these deals through the years and we all had.. “taken the back,” at one point or another. Still, this was a pretty big “back.” Nothing new here, though. Most of the time, the suspect, and or suspects, upon hearing officers at the front door, would then peek outside a rear window, see an officer standing guard back there, and often surrender. Usually. Some hide in the house. We have had to chase a few. (I would often put something across the back door causing a fleeing felon to trip.) I witnessed one investigator throw a brick and hit a fleeing suspect in the head. Took him right down. He couldn’t shoot him! So he bricked him.

Within a few minutes, everyone hit the streets in their unmarked cars. I threw on my body armor and raid jacket and left the shotgun in my car (too cumbersome in close quarters for me on deals of this nature). The plan was to give me a minute to park down the street just a bit and trot up to the yard. This was a corner house. Then, several cars would skid up to the house front, men bail out, destroy the door, and rush in.

I barely had time to jump the tall chain link fence, when I heard the sound of skidding tires and men yelling out front. The usual soundtrack. It is always difficult to exactly coordinate these things. There were about six back windows and a back door. The first floor extended out beneath the second story. There was a sloping, large ledge under the upstairs windows. I tell you this now because in an instant, every hole in the back of this building had people pouring out of it, as people leapt, hung and dropped from the ledge to escape.


“Halt! Police! Stop!” I yelled from the middle of the yard, my .45 drawn.
HA! I recall at least 10 unarmed people ran by me as though I was not there. Fat hookers, skinny dopers, you name it. If I had actually started shooting at them? Well hell, I’d be writing this from the penitentiary right now.

BUT! One of the escapees was Willy Vic himself! He ignored me, too, so I figured since he was the subject of the whole raid, I would chase him. The sprint was on. Willy had to vault a fence, and I was counting on that slowing him down. I holstered my weapon. I couldn’t shoot anyone here anyway.

He jumped on the fence and starting climbing, and I reached up and grabbed him. He clung like bat on the chain link. I reached around, cussed and slapped his face a few times. Hammer-fisted his hands, loosening his grip. Distracted, he dropped.
Thereupon came the scuffle. Willy landed on his back and my mission was to get him cuffed, which he didn’t want. He still had “rabbit in him” (which was Texican lawman talk for he was a runner).      He was a big guy, but in his mid-50s and these guys are still dangerous when excited, plus I was still surrounded by his escaping doper customers and his gang who could double and even triple the odds in Willy’s favor. Ever try to fight a mean, angry, fat hooker?
Meanwhile, the “team” was SWAT-tip-toeing through the house as though terrorists with sub-guns were around every corner. I could hear them yelling, “Clear! Clear!” as they secured every empty room and closet.
One thing was very “clear” to me, I was all alone in the yard, fighting a guy right beside all his buddies, who I hoped were all busy trying to escape. I had to toss a few snappy body punches into Willy, all the while yelling for him to give up. He quickly ran out of gas, and I cuffed him. His help? There was no loyalty among these thieves, and all the escapees got over the fences. I stood alone with the drug dealer, and  I was, all at once, a failure and a success.

I pulled the portable radio out of my back pocket and called Sgt Larry. I reported that I had caught Willy Vics in the back yard. I hooked his arm, lifted him, and walked him to the front porch of the house where the few, shocked folks who had remained in the house were cuffed and sitting on the steps. It made for great front page, local, newspaper photo of about six guys, Willy among them, cuffed and sitting dejected on the front porch steps and about six of our guys in raid jackets and shotguns towering over them.

I stood off from the victory photo-shoot and was a bit disappointed in myself because I had let about, oh, 11 people get away. I was about 35 years old then and had very high expectations for myself. Hell man! “One riot? One Ranger!” Audie Murphy and Sgt York took hundreds of prisoners. I couldn’t stop eight dopers and four fat hookers?
But, it all became quickly apparent that, in the end, I had caught the big fish they were after, and there was a tactical mishap in planning.  Me alone…”in the back” – you know, the place where everyone seems to go when the front gets raided?

This mishap became an “inside joke” with the troops for awhile. For the next year or two there was running joke with CID that anytime we would plan anything, (even a party), it would finish with, “…and Hock, you take the back!”
Sgt Larry, if he heard the rib, took with good nature. I guess?

There was an old comedy bit done by the now disgraced Bill Cosby about the Lone Ranger and Tonto. The Lone Ranger would say, “We’ve got to go to town and find out what the gang is doing,” meaning that Tonto himself, – alone, – would have to go to town. Whereupon he would routinely be beaten up. Cosby said he and his pals would scream at the TV set, “Don’t do it, Tonto! They’ll beat the snot out of you!” Cosby suggested Tonto say instead, “Who’s ‘we,’ Kemosabe?” Which for a while back then, that line become a bit of a cultural joke. You might still hear it a bit now.

But that one day? I was Tonto out back for sure. And Kemosabe was nowhere to be found.

Hock’s email is hockhochheim@forcenecessary.com

********

This is excerpted from Dead Right There. Get all of Hock’s books here:

Maneuvering Inside an Interview, Stand-Off Confrontation

So, if it’s not a stone-cold, surprise ambush and you are in an encounter with someone picking a fight with you for whatever the reason, yelling and arguing with you, and things may go physically “south” very fast. How will you stand before this person? In the best aspects of police work, even if someone is screaming at your face? It is still an “interview,” and you have to somehow remain cool, calm and collect.

This is professionalism at the police level, and maturity at the civilian level. Thus, the “interview stance” is a ready position, but not too, too ready as if to psychologically escalate the situation, or cause any possible witnesses to think YOU were escalating the situation into violence.
 
I would like to say that in all my decades of police work I had a trick in this pre-fight instance. If a situation was percolating into physical trouble, of course my body/feet would be bladed from that person, as in the right or left foot back from the other, but not too far. We call that “bladed.” And I would, inside my pant’s legs, unbeknownst to anyone, bend slightly at the knees. This was a more springboard, athletic position. This turned on the “juices” in my body that trouble was brewing.
I am sure by now you have heard the many experiments where body chemicals were sort of, reverse engineered. One famous experiment is the “reverse smile.” When you are happy, there are chemicals released and you smile. It has been thus far proven that when you smile you can initiate these same “happy chemicals.” The same is true for other physical responses and body chemicals. I “have made it so,” that when I slightly bend at the knees, I have made myself….”ready.” Ready? Ready to move. Ready to do something physical.
But, if you jump into a fighting stance, “before” the actual fight, which might make good, pre-emptied sense sometimes, be aware that your “action-guy” pose could be perceived as an escalation to violence. This may spur on the other guy, or look like the actual fight-starter to ignorant witnesses – 
“Two guys were just arguing, officer and then, the guy in the suit squared off like he was going to fight. Then the other guy did too. Then the fight started.”
 
Part of everyone’s repitoire should be the “re-emptive” strike. You know this physical fight is going to happen, so you strike first. This is your own little ambush, usually delivered from a non-fighting stance. Could be an arm strike or a kick. Could be a carefully placed head butt?
 
That is why all unarmed, self defense system must practice all their strikes and kicks from the typical non-fight stances, all which we will review later, along with the fighting ready performance stances/positions, moving and non-moving.
So, your pre-emptive STRIKE, though soundly sensible for your situation, could make you appear to be the instigator of the physical part of a fight. Needless to say, the same nearby witnesses may tattle –
“Two guys were just arguing, officer, and then the guy in the suit hauled off and smacked the other guy in the head!”
 
On the flip side of your knee bend is his knee bend. If you have a person confronting/standing before you, and he suddenly crouches down? This is a natural athletic move. This is NOT good for you. It is a positive indication that he is about to get physical. Look at the bent knees and the hands up in this picture above. This is a fighting “stance” for when the fight starts. If they “spear” up their hands? Crouch and or, start twisting their torso which a high percentage, common precursor for a sucker punch, you must act according and prepare for trouble. (Inside my book Fightin’ Words you will find all those pre-fight tips I’ve been collecting since 1973.) Remember all these cues when you must later articulate why you did what you did.
 
Like so much in life, anything within a certain spectrum of events, good or bad, can happen. May work. May not work. In this particular “stand-off interview” moment, here are some common, even natural responses in the script of life.
-1: Leaving, fast or slowly.
-2: Cowering, “collapsing” of some facial and physical sort.
-3: Automatic anger.
-4: Ignoring, in some situations.
-5: Command presence of some sort, as in not collapsing.
-6: Fighting ready pose.
 
There are still options for maneuvering in a so-called stand-off confrontation, many are done with simple walking steps. You can:
-1: Maneuver a distance from the problem person or persons.
-2: Sometimes you can just keep walking.
-3: Maneuver near an exit, for a sudden escape.
-4: Maneuver over into the sight of witnesses or help.
-5: Maneuver to something that can be grabbed as a weapon or a shield.
 
-6: Realize a person or persons may be maneuvering you by crowding you, distracting you and getting you into a inescapable position, a no-witness situation. (A pre-meditated ambush is full of these factors.)
 
-7: Orderly retreat as previously defined in other essay, or even running.
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And a Quick Note on Verbal De-Escalators
While on this initial confrontation subject, a quick “side step” here from physical movement over to verbal skills. As for all the verbal, de-escalater experts out there? There are many courses available on de-escalation, run by lots of intellectual folks who have never had such attacks and confrontations forced on them, and they over-value the idea that great, practiced orations will interrupt a fight.
You will hear advice from all sorts of people. Remember that deescalation for cops is different than for guards, different for door men, for soldiers, for citizens on a parking lot, family members in a domestic, or road rage encounters, etc. Run their advice though your Who, What, Where, When, How and Why filter. While remaining within a spectrum of outcomes, the encounter is quite situational for you.
Never forget this guy drawn below. All your non-aggressive, micro-expressions and rehearsed non-aggressive wordings and steps won’t stop him. He has his own script. He follows an antithesis to your script.
********
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
This is excerpted from Hock’s future book, Footwork and Maneuvering: From the Ring to the Obstacle Course”

Jailbreak! And the Psycho Martin Crebbs

It was afternoon in August in the early ’80s. Egg-frying, Texas hot. That is to say that if you plopped a raw egg down on the street, it would sizzle in less than a minute or so.
     CID Sgt Howard Kelly and I were cruising back into our city from a long day of looking around the countryside on the north side of our county. Looking over open, condemned land. Howard had caught a tip that a ring of car and truck thieves were stealing vehicles, stripping them down and discarding the remnants out on the vast fields and farmland very soon to be covered over by a major lake project. If we didn’t find the stripped vehicles soon, they’d all be under about a hundred feet of water. Howard had an idea about this location, and we hoped we might catch the ring at work. Who in the world would be working out in this laser heat, though? Still, we had to try.
     We were in my assigned Chevy, but Howard was driving because he knew where he wanted to go. I had my hands up on dashboard to collect the air conditioning shooting it up the short sleeves of my damp dress shirt. No matter the heat, we usually had to wear a tie and a sport coat or a classic suit. Had to cover the gun back then. Kelly almost never wore a tie, or a jacket for that matter, and “they” (admin) were kind of afraid to tell him otherwise. He was the NCIS, Jethro Gibbs of the detective division, if you get my drift with this modern analogy.
     We hit town, turned down Chester Ave and into the busy downtown area, talking about who knows what all, when a screaming man yelled over the police radio, “Jailbreak! Jailbreak! A whole floor is loose!” It was the county dispatcher. He was desperate.
     “All available units report to the SO, ASAP.”
     This news quickly went out over the city radio airwaves too. This did not sound like the usual “suspect bounding out of the first-floor, book-in room” and off to the city park north of the Sheriff’s Office.
Howard and I looked at each other. We were about 100 feet from the County Sheriff’s Office! He pulled onto the lot. We bailed, pulled our guns and ran into the building. We could see some city police cars zipping in, and some officers running across the field from the neighboring city PD.
     We got inside and three county investigators were standing by the doors, guns up and at the ready, as the one main elevator descended from the cell floors above. What was this? Were escapees coming down? Howard Kelly and I pointed our guns at the doors too.
     The elevator descended. Descended. The doors opened. On the elevator floor laid a jailer. Johnny Yale. He was howling and quaking.  There was blood all over his torn shirt.
     “He stabbed me!” he yelled. “They stabbed me. The whole third floor is loose!”
     SO investigator Jim Wilson hit the kill switch on the elevator wall and knelt beside Yale. Lt Jim Neel also knelt.
     “Who stabbed you?” Lt Neel asked over and over. “Who?
     “Crebbs! Crebbs did this. It’s a jailbreak up there. He turned everybody loose.” Yale yelped, almost crying.
     “Everybody” on the third floor of the county jail was about 75 inmates.
     “Block off the stairwells!” Jim Wilson ordered. Some deputies near there with shotguns and pistols, took positions.
Crebbs. I looked up at the ceiling, my .357 Magnum revolver in my hand. Crebbs. I’d put that raping, stabbing, psycho Martin Crebbs in this jail. I caught him. I put em in here. And now?
     Now I’m gonna go upstairs…and I’m gonna kill him.

<<<>>>

     Who is this Crebbs? How did I catch him? Why did I think he needed killing?
     He was Martin J. Crebbs. Years ago, back in the ’70s as a patrolman in Texas, I’d heard of a rape case from station-house gossip and crime updates. A woman had been awakened in her bed by an intruder. The intruder controlled her with one of her own kitchen knives he’d collected from her counter on the way to her bedroom. She was raped at knife point in her bed. Then she was abducted to another house and tied up and raped again. Held for hours, she escaped. Our detective squad caught this teenager, also a known burglar. He was convicted and sent to the Texas Pen. Somehow, don’t ask me how, perhaps his age? Perhaps the trying times of overcrowded penitentiaries? He was released on parole. The man’s name was Martin J. Crebbs.
     Then, there was another home intrusion rape in the neighborhood, and a series of aggravated robberies and burglaries throughout our city and in North Texas, and by this time, I was a detective.

May 19 Paroled
June 12 Aggravated robbery
June 12 House burglary
June 20 Aggravated robbery
June 20 House burglary
June 20 House burglary
June 20 Attempted rape
June 23 Attempted rape/home invasion
June 24 House burglary
June 26 Aggravated robbery
June 26 Aggravated robbery
June 30 House burglary
June 30 House burglary
July 1 House burglary
July 4 House burglary
July 5 House burglary
July 5 Aggravated rape
July 8 Aggravated robbery
July 12 House burglary
July 12 House burglary
July 14 Aggravated rape
Other crimes too…

     Also, I might mention that not all of these crimes listed were within our city limits. Some occurred outside the city, in the county and in the counties north of us. In the 1980s we were not in “lightening” touch with each other as we are today. It would take days, even weeks, maybe even a month or two before regional crime patterns over multiple jurisdictions could be recognized and organized.     

     Where did I come in? July 14. The a.m. hours of. There was a pool of detectives in our squad, all taking general assignments and some of these crimes were routinely spread out among us.

     I happened to be the “detective on call” so I was summoned to an old house on the northeast side of the city in zero-dark-30 hours of the 14th of July. A home invasion, rape case. Crime scene specialist, Russell Lewis was also dispatched. In route to the house, I was informed that the victim was rushed to the hospital and with the crime scene in Russell’s expert hands, I turned off my path to speak with the victim and oversee the rape kit process. At the hospital, I learned what I could from this poor exhausted, bruised woman, I’ll just call her “Judy” here, before she was rolled into an examination room. I left Judy with a patrolman to gather info for the basic, crime report. Judy had a good friend who quickly met her at the hospital, as well as the ever-handy “Friends of the Family,” a group of female counselors we used to help rape victims. Judy, the friend and the counselor promised they would all be at the police station by about 11 a.m. for a detailed statement.
     By 6 a. m., I was at the house. Russell and I had to swap stories to really know how to scour the residence, yard and area again. The open kitchen window of the older, wood framed house, the big kitchen knife (from the victim’s kitchen drawer) and the bed left in total disarray, and the strips of cloth used to tie her spread hands and feet to the bed frame…well…they all told much of the overall story. The three-hour ordeal.
     We stepped through the yard and with the help of the rising, welcome, dawn light and with our giant flash lights, we saw four, dry, Marlboro cigarette butts by the doghouse (there was no dog) in the yard. We collected them. I found another cigarette butt by a big tree in the yard. Another place to hide and watch from? Russell photographed and printed. We carefully folded up the sheets and pillows hoping for fluid stains and head and pubic hair and so forth. Was anything stolen or missing? I wouldn’t know until the victim could return to her house and take stock. You never know how fast you might need this info, and the first few days are a thirsty rush for intelligence.
     By mid-afternoon, I knew a few things. The suspect was young, white male, 20s maybe, long blond hair. He surprised Judy when she was in bed. He had one of her big kitchen knives. He treated her “like a candy store,” as she described it. He brandished the knife until she was tied up and even after, at times, while she was tied. The tip was at her neck.
     He told her as he left, “Don’t bother calling the police. They’ll never find me.”
     Forty something years later as I type his last here, his words still burn my stomach and piss me off, not unlike when I heard them the first time.
     Well, guess again, dipshit.

     Judy, nor anyone she knew, smoked cigarettes, least of all Marlboro cigarettes. The presence of such butts in the yard was mysterious to her. Perhaps we could run some successful saliva tests on them? She said she’d looked over her house and thought she’d lost one piece of jewelry. It was a customized piece. I learned she was an art student, and I asked her to draw the suspect and draw that customized piece of jewelry. She did, and man! Did that come in handy later.


     I started a neighborhood canvass around dinnertime on the 14th, looking for any and all information about people, cars and suspicious things.
     That began an amassment of suspects. One of Judy’s next door neighbors was a parolee, who had killed is wife in the ’60s, and was a known “window-peeper.” Another “weird” guy lived a block away, the neighbors told me. Plus, we had an occasional “butcher-knife” rapist working that side of the city for years, but he was a little older and always brought his own butcher knife. Neighbors reported their usual, suspicious “hippies.” One of these “weird hippies” was wanted for assault. I wasted a day running him down and arrested him inside a college night club. I quickly cleared him of this crime.
     Russell Lewis checked in with me to report the fingerprints were smudges and not comparable. He sent other evidence off for testing.
     Meanwhile, I’d also caught “talk” of this Martin Crebbs’ parole, once again from general “cop gossip.” I cannot tell you how important just gossip and talk was and is with fellow, area investigators, especially back in those non-tech, days. When on day shift, after the morning crime briefings, a bunch of us would go eat breakfast at a series of restaurants. We, the county and the state investigators would congregate, talk smack, hunting, sports and oh yes…crime! Some of us on evening shift would still drive in and eat breakfast for this. Ignorant police supervisors and bean counters who’d never served as investigators, would oft times complain about this “laziness.” But, they were just plain ignorant and frankly, pains-in-the ass.
     At one breakfast, someone from the state, warned us to watch out for, “Hey, a crazy somabitch, Martin Crebbs was paroled and he is a little psycho, crime machine. A robber and a rapist. He’s got relatives in this county and up north in Crisco.”
     So, I looked into Crebbs and contacted his state parole officer in Crisco County. After this phone conversation, I could see it deserved a drive north to look at his file, which the officer said was thick, and always a pain to fax back then. Faxes were a bit foggy to read especially if you received copies of copies. Better and quicker to make the 90 minute drive.
     Once in the state building in Crisco county, I sat down with the Crebbs’ file. The parole officer said that in just the few short weeks Crebbs had been on parole, he was already a growing problem. He lived with his parents in a rural area in Crisco county. His picture matched the suspect description and Judy’s drawing. Some of his prior rape conviction details did match those of Judy’s crime, but still, many rapists share common denominators. Had robberies increased since his release? Yeah. Burglaries? Well, yeah. But they come and go. Maybe up here in Crisco too? I took one Polaroid photo of Crebbs from the file, and collected some copies of ID data.
     My next stop was the Crisco County Sheriff’s Office where I met CID Captain David Bone. Bone and I had worked together a bit in the past. Bone was about 6’5”, a power-lifter, former Texas Tech lineman, ex-rough-necker/oil field worker and smart as a whip on fire. What little we had and knew about computers back then, was already Bone’s new interest and his specialty. If I ever build a Dirty Dozen, police force, Bone will take up two slots. He had a very simple business card that had two things on it – the word “BONE” in the center in capital letters, and his phone number in the lower right. Not Captain, not Sheriff’s Office, just “Bone.” If you got one of those stuck in your front door, that Bone had been there looking for you? And you’re a shady character? You’d better just pack up and head on out to Mexico.


     “Martin Crebbs!” Bone said to me. “I am right this instant, looking at him for an armed robbery of a convenience store.” South part of the county. I need to talk to the clerk. Let’s go.”
     Go we did. I climbed into his sedan and took the front seat, passenger side. I felt like a small child there. Bone was such a giant that he’d removed the front seat and welded a new foundation for it, moving it back a few more inches than factory spec, so that he could fit his giant self behind the wheel and work all the pedals. So, though my own 6’3” self felt like a kid in there. I drove his car once on another case we worked and could barely reach the steering wheel, and I needed a Dallas phone book to sit on. But, I digress. Back to the case….
     The robbed county store was not that far from the Crebbs’ family house. The owner himself was robbed, and he thought the getaway car he spied parked up the road from the store was familiar looking      “Seen it around,” he said.
     The masked man with a gun reminded him over-all of someone in the area, but he couldn’t say for sure whom. The man said that the .45 pistol aimed at him was old and even “rusty-looking.”
Right then I recalled that we too in my city, had two armed robberies where a suspect held an old .45 pistol. I realized the suspect at home did match the overall shape and size of this Crisco crime.

     Back at the Crisco Sheriff’s Office, Bone and I made a plan. We would take turns surveilling the Crebbs’ family house and if that dried up in a day or two, we’d march up to the house and question everyone. As Howard Kelly would say, “When you hit a brick wall, go shake the tree. That might not make sense, a “wall” and then a “tree.” But it meant that when all leads fail, go shake up, and mess with the suspects. Sometimes they react in a beneficial way. What have you got to lose? You never know what will fall out of the wall…er, I mean…the tree.

     The next day I asked Judy to make a return visit to the P.D. I showed her a photo line-up with Crebbs and with similar males with blond hair. Since the rape occurred in darkness, she just couldn’t be sure enough to pick Crebbs out. She gave me a maybe on Crebbs. I can’t work with a maybe.
     I did a “shift” on the Crisco county house. Bone did a shift and he had a deputy do one too. We never saw Crebbs, and only observed the comings and goings of a large rural, family. Nothing
interesting happened. Not even a sighting of Crebbs.
We decided to do that “march” and “tree-shaking” after three days. We drove up the dirt road to the two-story house and knocked on the door. What we found was a mad mom, a mad dad and a mad uncle. Not mad at us. Mad at Martin! We all sat down in their large living room.
     “I know that little shit is robbin’ places! I know it!” the dad exclaimed. “The day after he got out of jail, his little sister took him to Boydston, to a pawn shop, and he bought a gun.”
     “What kind of gun?” I asked.
     “It’s an old Army pistol,” he said. “I’ve seen him with it.”
     “By old you mean…”
     “Like World War II? An automatic.”
     It was very common to call semi-automatic pistols, “automatics” in those days.
     “He is a hangin’ out with that Steve Spitz from Sherman. He’s trouble,” the mom said.
     Bone nodded and said, “Heard of him.”
     “I’ll bet you have. He’s a snake in the grass,” the dad said.
     “They drive around in Spitz’s car,” the mom said. “Some kind of Camaro, dark red. It ain’t his, it belongs to some poor girlfriend of his.”
     We collected various bits of other information, like the little sister’s name and birthdays. Cars. Etc.
     Then Bone and I drove back to the Crisco Sheriff’s Office and we went straight to their records room. We looked up Spitz. Bone uncovered in the county files that both Spitz and Crebbs were roommates in their jail years ago under burglary charges. With the Spitz birthday on file, we ran his criminal history and drivers license info. We had mugshots. Spits had dark hair, Crebbs had blond hair.
     Back home I collected all our recent armed robbery reports. I was not assigned to any of those robberies. One robbery was at the usual gas station combination convenience store.
     According to a customer pumping gas who saw the robbers approach the store, one robber was masked, the other man was still donning his mask while running across the lot. This almost masked man had black hair. And the customer saw the man’s face before the mask slipped on. The robbery team got inside, pulled an “old” semi-auto gun and robbed the place.
     Who was the witness pumping gas, the customer who saw the face? I scoured the report. The detective assigned to the robbery case had not found out, even after three weeks? I will only tell you that the detective assigned to the robbery was a slug, and I wasn’t surprised.
     I drove to the store and working with the manager, looked over the credit card receipts from the crime date and time, hoping the guy didn’t pay for his gas with cash, but used a credit card.
     He did use a card! He used a company card. With some long-distance phone calls, we found him, an Oklahoma truck driver. I created a photo line-up of similar white males, and I met this witness at a restaurant on the Texas/Oklahoma border. He actually picked Steve Spitz out very quickly.
     The next day, I got an arrest warrant for Spitz, and we spread the word all over North Texas.

     Meanwhile, I contacted Texas Ranger Phil Ryan who worked the region including Boydston. I gave him the info on Crebbs and Crebbs’ little sister and asked him to find the pawn shop where the gun was purchased. Ryan was a great Ranger and I write about him often in my recollections. He would work a tractor theft as hard as a triple murder and within two days we learned all the details of the gun purchase. It was an old .45 caliber, semi-auto pistol.

     Days later, my desk phone rang. It was Bone.
     “We got Spitz,” Bone said. “A state trooper found him driving on Highway 8. Alone in his car. Nothing in the car. I’ll wait for you to get up here, and we’ll talk to him.”
     “I am on my way,” I said.

     Spitz was a real punk, but he knew he was caught and he did talk in his hope for leniency.
     “Cripps is crazy, man! He thinks he is Joe the Dope Dealer with drugs and Bonnie and Clyde, Clyde the robber. And he thinks he is Jack the Ripper.”
     In just three weeks these idiots committed a crime wave of felonies with more plans on the Crebbs drawing board for supermarket robberies, raping lone convenience store clerks and Crebbs favorite – home invasions, but of families at night. They had even plotted a bank job. Police officers stumbling into these scenes would be taken hostage or shot.
     “You know, it was all Crebbs. I…I wouldn’t do all that,” Spitz said.
     Spitz was an emotional mess. Crying. Bulging veins. Pleading. We knew we would have to prove and re-prove everything he said, anyway we could.
     I won’t bore you here with the skyscraper of paperwork this produced. And all this back in the day when we typed reports on typewriters, maybe electric, sometimes not, with carbon paper, and used expensive, copy machines when we could. But filing warrants and cases on 30-plus felony crimes was a paper puzzle. We did it, none the less, filing cases in three counties. Welcome to my world. Today, all this would be done by a task force. Back then, it was just me and Bone. (In case I forget to tell you later? Spitz took a 10-year plea bargain.)

     We were informed by the angry relatives that Crebbs was still coming and going from the family house once in a while in another friend’s borrowed, two-door, light yellow Chevy. Bone drew up a search warrant for Crebbs’ room in his house, just in case, which we searched and turned up nothing.
     Now, all we had left to do was find Crebbs and that gun. The word was out he was a wanted man. We were back to staking out the family house in plain cars. I was driving my personal Ford Thunderbird.
     And then one afternoon after a few days, we saw him go by in the two-door Chevy. We pulled a simple traffic stop and an “under-the-gun arrest.” He tried nothing. He knew he was surrounded. Cuffed and stuffed, I took a quick look over his car. There in an open compartment in the console was a chain and a piece of jewelry. It looked familiar. It actually looked like the drawing Judy sketched of her stolen necklace. I walked back to my car and returned with my Polaroid camera. I snapped a photo of the console and the jewelry. I pulled the jewelry out. It matched Judy’s drawing perfectly. Her missing piece! The souvenir of a rapist. I stuck the picture and jewelry into my pocket.

     Next, began one of the most unusual relationships I guess I have ever had with a criminal, and I have had many, from Narcs, to Cowboy Mafia-men to dopers and killers. Back at the Cisco jail, Bone and I sat down with Crebbs in an interview room. We read him his Miranda rights. He waived them. I think he was dying to talk and see what we had on him. At first, Crebbs denied everything and was only concerned with the evidence we had, trying to play all the angles he could. He yelled and swelled up, and pitched a fit of innocence. He called us crazy.
     I pulled the chain and pendant from my pocket and held it up, the pendant swung like a hypnosis watch.
     “You took this from a woman,” I said calmly.
     His head shook slightly, just back and forth, not side-to-side, not yes, or no, and he almost smiled. Then I proceeded to tell him a list of what we had on him, step-by-step, to include a complete confession from Steve Spitz. Then I told him about the evidence the lab was working on. He listened intently.
     “You’re good,” he said.
     “No,” I said. “You’re just that bad.”
     But actually, he was impressed with me and Bone. His whole demeanor changed, and he sat there and told us everything, almost as only an actor could, playing the part of psycho, talking about someone else, not him. He spoke in a passive, monotone voice. He did slightly giggle over some of the rape details. He bragged about the houses he “shafted.” He criticized his accomplice’s inadequate performances.
     “Did Spitz lie about anything?” I asked.
     “No, I don’t think so,” he said.
     It was pretty clear we were dealing with a psychopath, who viewed the rest of us as mannequins to his passing fancy. Bone and I took long, separate written (actually typed) confessions from Crebbs. He was quite proud of himself and his…achievements.

     Over the next few days, Bone and Crisco County kept Crebbs as they worked on paperwork and court appearances for the crimes in their county. Meanwhile with Judy’s jewelry and the confessions, I obtained a few more arrest warrants on Crebbs and pushed the local paperwork monkey further up the tree. By this time, Texas Ranger Weldon Lucas caught wind of all this and wanted to help out. In about a week, Weldon and I drove up to Crisco, served the warrants and transferred Crebbs to our jail in cuffs and a hobble.
     Once he was ensconced in our jail, I visited him frequently and I took him out to cruise the city and further document the locations of his rape, robberies and burglaries. I never once talked down to him, and always treated him “normally.” And we talked about a lot of things other than crime. This is an important strategy for every detective to try. You either have this knack, or not. Now, this method of “questioning/interrogation” has been quite formalized by the FBI and now even for fighting terrorism.
     Crebbs sat in the passenger seat of my car, cuffed around front to drink coffee and eat from drive thru, fast-food places. This was a treat for an inmate. I knew he would kill me in an instant, but I had a detective in the back seat right behind him that I could really trust and who would…seriously intervene. It was probably another detective in our squad, Danny McCormick back then, but I just can’t remember. I knew this was tricky and dangerous, but it was the confession game I was playing. A risk I knew I was taking. And I knew Danny would just shoot the son of a bitch, if Crebbs tried to kill me.

     In the process of his first local court appearances, he was appointed an attorney, who immediately shut all this interaction down. This attorney, first-name Gary, was a sharp guy, and we were friendly adversaries, as I was with almost all local defense attorneys. Gary could not conceive the unusual mountain of evidence and confessions I’d obtained from Crebbs. Within a few weeks, I would have a sperm match with the rape kit and a saliva match on the cigarette butts from the yard. Solid, solid case. This surely looked like a major, plea bargain to all of us. When Crebbs was eventually transferred from our city jail to the county jail, he told our city jailer to tell me goodbye.

     This had all the earmarks of a plea bargain indeed, but we had a new, go-getter, assistant district attorney I’ll call here “Hal Sleeve.” Hal craved the Crebbs prosecution. He asked me over for a meeting at the DA’s Office, and I expected a puzzle-piece, plan to bunch the crimes together into one big, plea bargain with a hefty jail term.
     “I am going to start with the rape,” Hal said.
     “Start?” I repeated.
     “This guy is an animal, and we are going to try him one felony at a time.”
     Okay. He’s the boss, and that is what we did. Sleeve really was one helleva’n attorney too, and he did quite a job.

     So, within a few months, with Crebbs in our county jail with a “no-bond” the entire time, a trial eventually began. When I walked into the courtroom, Crebbs waved at me, and I nodded at him. Do you see what I mean by strange? When I was called to the stand to testify and Gary could not shake off any of the evidence we presented, especially the confessions I took from Crebbs, that I had to read aloud before the jury. I was dismissed. I had to walk past the defense table and Crebbs nodded at me again. Strange. I just fried him alive, and still he acknowledged me.

     Crebbs got about 30 years in the Texas Pen for aggravated rape. But, the next trial date was set a month off, and Crebbs remained in his cell on the third floor of the county jail. And during that wait? Crebbs called a friend on a pay phone for a pick-up, escape vehicle for a planned date and time, took small pipes off of an exercise bike, sharpened one end of each, wrapped the other ends of the pipes with a small, hand towel, tied the towel with some string, and tried to kill a jailer named Yale with seven stabs. Yale fell screaming. Crebbs took the keys off of Yale’s belt. With the jailer’s keys in hand, he turned the whole 3rd floor of the jail loose, and they gained access to the office off the elevator. There were various staff weapons up in that office.

<<<>>>>

     And now you know why on that hot, August afternoon, with jailer Yale screaming bloody murder on the floor of the elevator, and the SO in chaos, I stared at the ceiling, gun in hand, and wanted to kill Crebbs.
     With the elevator sealed, with just a few moments ticked off, we made our move. There was one stairway to the 3rd floor. Me, Howard Kelly, a city patrol officer named Jim Tom Bush (who was a decorated Vietnam War sniper and now brandishing a shotgun) and Jim Wilson gathered at that doorway. Wilson opened the steel door, and we heard the raucous yells and crazed chants from above. With all our guns pointed upward, just me, Kelly, Bush and Wilson ran up the stairs. For some reason? No one else followed us up. I can imagine why.
     Oh, you might think, “Now wait a minute”, isn’t this a job for SWAT?”
     But back in those thrilling days of yesteryear, only places like Tokyo and Los Angeles had SWAT teams. Back then, we were the SWAT team. In my department the detective division was the SWAT team. Same with the County Sheriff’s Office. So me, Kelly and Wilson had been on quite a number of raids and actions. Patrolman Bush? Bush was just a routine bad-ass. (Many years later Bush became a leader on our SWAT team.)
     We got to the big, vault-like office door on the 3rd floor, which lead to the cells. There was a window in the door, and we saw the inmates walking around, yelling, throwing stuff. Unlike modern jails with open pods, this jail was mostly a series of hallways and cells on either side, and some open, sitting and eating areas. Wilson unlocked the big door, shoved it open, and we marched in.
     “Back in your cells or die!” we shouted, pointing our guns at everyone we could see. This was Texas in the ’80s and they knew that we were not bluffing. Mostly, they did return. Some were shoved.
    “You cannot get out of this building. Get back in your cells!” we said.
     I also was on the visual hunt for Crebbs. I couldn’t find him. I couldn’t see him. I ran down an empty hall to one of the day areas. I heard a voice. Angry, pleading. His voice. I turned the corner to see Crebbs on one of the pay phones. He was yelling at someone about his car ride escape. He held the shank in his hand. Jail keys hooked on his pants.
     “HEY!” I yelled.
     He turned. He dropped the phone. And pissed-off, stared at me. We were completely alone in this end of the wing. The ruckus in the halls seemed far away.
     It was another one of those moments in my life. I could have shot him. Dead right there. No one would have doubted or questioned the action under these circumstances. Somehow I had this odd feeling that shooting him was just not enough. It was a gut feeling. I holstered my gun and walked toward him, pointing my finger, “Drop it! Drop it. Drop it.”
     He didn’t. He didn’t. He didn’t.
     He raised it as I got close, and we had a fight. I can’t specifically remember each step of this, but I beat him down pretty bad. He’d had a lit cigarette in his mouth, and I hit him there first, which was hard enough to make him drop the shank in his hand. After that? Confusing mess. When it was done, I picked him up off the floor and handcuffed him.
     A deputy ran down the hall and shouted, “You okay?”
     “Yeah, can you get that?” I motioned to the shank.
     I marched Crebbs back down the hall as Kelly, Bush and Wilson and another deputy or two locked up the last of the loose inmates. I took Crebbs through the office, down the stairs and was sort of surprised how no one else had really joined us? No one else in the stairwell, until I got to the bottom, where some officers stood an anxious guard. Maybe they thought we would just take the floor office back, shut the office jail door, and only secure the office? I don’t know. I walked Crebbs past the Sheriff, past some of the detectives, officers and civilians congregating on the first floor hall.     

     The local news was already there, their office building a few blocks away. All solemn eyes were upon us. Maybe I had a bruise or two on my face. Crebbs did. He was bleeding. I took him into their CID offices, followed by some of the investigators, and sat him in a chair. Nobody cared about the blood.
     “Yale?” I asked of the jailer when CID Captain Ron “Tracker” Douglas walked in.
     “He’ll live.”
     “He’s all yours. Let me get my handcuffs,” I said.
     And some of the SO detectives stood Crebbs up, and we exchanged cuffs.
     “I caught him on the pay phone. I’ll write you up a statement right away and get it back to you,” I told Tracker.
     I needed out of there. Needed air. I walked outside. My car was still outside, and Howard Kelly could simply walk across the parking lot to the City PD. This was a county crime, and a county arrest. I didn’t need to do that usual ton of city paperwork. The county did. I just needed to type a statement. This whole thing took about 15 minutes? 20 minutes? From the second we heard the radio call of, “Jailbreak!”
     I saw my car on the crowded parking lot. I could squeeze it out between all the emergency and news vehicles.
     I was going to make my own little escape from the mayhem! I could of killed him. Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda. But I didn’t. I just didn’t. It just didn’t… play out that way. And, I did what I did, and I felt real funny about it. Kind of mentally sick in a body-chemical way I can’t explain. A hard to describe feeling. I just wanted to get to my office and type up a short, concise, statement.
     I backed out of the parking spot, and then I saw in my mirror, Tracker Douglas outside running toward me and waving.
     “Oh shit, what now?” I said to myself. I rolled down the car window.
     “Hock. Crebbs said he wants to talk to you.”
     “Talk to me?”
     “Yeah. We need a statement, and he said he would talk only to you.”
     They really didn’t need a statement. Yale was alive to testify about his attack. But to be thorough, a statement is always…nice to have. I pulled back in the parking spot and got out. Tracker and I made our way back to the CID offices.
     We found an interview room with a desk, and they sat Crebbs in a chair, cuffing his wrist to the arm of a chair. A deputy with a shotgun sat outside the door.
     I walked in, closed the door and sat on the desk. I said in an astonished tone, like two old friends talking, “What in the fuck happened up there?”
     And he began and wouldn’t shut up. He told me everything and I mean everything. I got off the desk and sat in the other chair. He told me with the rape conviction and more trials coming, he realized his life was over and he had to escape.
     “Well, the only chance you have for any kind of leniency is to explain all this in a statement. If you don’t get your voice heard, you’ll just be like a cool-blooded killer. An attempted murderer,” I said. “You know they won’t let you speak up in court. The prosecution will really tear you apart if you take the stand.”
     “Yeah, I know,” he said. “Yeah, I’ll make a statement.”
     Now, technically, Crebbs was still under the auspices of Gary the attorney. In some locales, this might shed a darkness over any statement Crebbs might give. But, on the other hand, he could waive his rights at any time, and offer a statement. So I went with that angle. If worse came to worse? They would just outlaw/dismiss the statement.
    And so I began the statement process with Crebbs yet again. I got a standard confession form with the Miranda warnings on the top, and I began collecting a confession from Crebbs. We went line by line. When it was done, I told him, “Good luck,” and handed Tracker the confession. It had various details like who the getaway driver was supposed to be. And so, to my memory that was like the 23rd or so confession I had collected from Martin Crebbs. The last one, I had hoped. But oh, no. No.

     The next morning, prosecutor Hal Sleeve called me. He wanted to know the details of the escape from my perspective. I told him. In those days, video tapes were a growing interest in the legal system and Sleeve had massaged the DA’s office budget into buying some expensive, camera equipment. He was a real advocate for maximizing the use of video in court from crime scenes to confessions.
     “So, he confessed,” Sleeve said.
     “Yeah,” I said.
     “Would he confess again? I mean on tape? Could you get him to confess again?”
     “I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t know. What would Gary say?”
     “Gary’s on vacation for two weeks. Crebbs waived his rights. What can he say? He waived. Would he confess again,” Sleeve asked, “up on the scene. Would he walk you around the 3rd floor and explain what he did? Could you get him to do that?”   

     “Can you get an SO detective to do that?” I asked.
     “You know he won’t do it for anyone but you. Go try, Hock.”
     I didn’t work for the DA’s Office, but I kind of did, you know? We all do in this business, and the police chief and sheriff are really just anal retentive, hotel managers. And, as the old Al Pacino movie line goes, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
     Sleeve set it all up. 1 p.m., the next day. Two days after the escape attempt. I went to the SO. Sleeve was waiting there for me. Their crime scene people and operators of the video equipment were at the ready. Tracker Douglas was also at the ready to facilitate. Crebbs was brought down to the same interview room and there we were again. Just me and him. He was surprised to see me. This was the kind of guy that, if you fight him? And you beat him? He respected you even more. And, after some conversation, like a damn salesman on cue, I reluctantly began my requested pitch.
     “Listen, Martin, it would be a great service to this agency and all the other agencies to hear you describe how you did all this yesterday. You know it’s a new world with these video tapes. And a video like this would be helpful, also make it look like you were trying to help us, and fully cooperate. Show full cooperation. It might show the jury that you have some…you know, hope? Compassion? Whatever.”
     I guess he had nothing better to do! Why not. His face was expressionless.
     “Yeah, sure,” he said.
     And we did. Uncuffed, he stood beside me, on the third floor, with all the hooting and hollering of a hot, un-airconditioned day in the county jail. I read his Miranda rights yet again on film. Maybe the 24th, 25th time? I don’t know anymore. He waived them again. I asked him to start explaining what happened. He walked us to the exercise area, showed us the particulars on the exercise bike where he got the two pipes for his shanks…showed us everything, right up to the point where he and we had our little, physical confrontation in that day room by the phones. I was wondering how he would handle that, describe that part of the tour? Just at this point, I asked him a question and broke his chain of thought.
     Video done. I left again.
     I got back to our station and sat down in Howard Kelly’s office, stretching out.
     “Is it over?” Howard asked.
     “I think that part is over. Now comes the rest of the trials.”

     I didn’t see Crebbs for about 3 months until the next case came to trial. The jailbreak case was put atop the list in his crime wave. He was charged with Attempted Capital Murder with a Deadly Weapon. In the hall Gary the attorney looked at me, half-smiled and shook his head.
     “I don’t know how you do it,” he said.
     Meaning my conscience? I think I knew what he was talking about.  Should I have waited for Gary to return two weeks before I questioned Crebbs? That whole protocol thing?
     “He said he wanted to talk to me, Gary. They pulled me off the street to see him. Then he kept waiving his right to counsel.”
     “And yet? I am still his counsel,” Gary said.
     “And yet you are.” What else could I say?
     In court, there were arguments for and against both the written and taped confessions. The judge ruled in the state’s favor and both confessions were admissible. I did a lot of testifying that week. The jailer testified. Sleeve’s great, closing argument was another patriotic, crowd pleaser. In the judge’s chamber, awaiting the jury verdict, Hal Sleeve was ecstatic. At one point he even put his head on my shoulder and said, “Thank you.”
     Somewhere in the annuals of the county court evidence records, in a locker somewhere is that very strange video tape of Crebbs’ confession, taking us on a violent tour of a jail stabbing and mass escape.
     Crebbs was convicted, received nearly a life sentence and following that, the prosecutors from various counties joined together for a big plea bargain. There were aggravated robberies, rapes, burglaries, drug charges…what a bundle. He wound up with over a hundred years to do.
      Somewhere in all this, and I don’t remember how, nor is it in my notes, I somehow recovered that rusty old “Army” gun. Crebbs must have told me where it was. But I got my hands on it, and I do recall, and do have notes, that I traveled around and showed it to the robbery victims in our city to further close up our robbery case files. One woman I showed it to jerked back at its sight, like it sent an electric shock her way.

     And that is the Crebbs story and his jailbreak scheme. I sometimes think about the victims of his crimes. And that line, “Don’t bother calling the police. They’ll never find me,” Martin J. Crebbs told Judy the rape victim as he left.

     Well, guess again, dipshit.

Me and Howard Kelly, yesterday and today…

Updates:
– Just a few months after his confinement in the Texas Pen, Crebbs was almost beaten to death by fellow inmates. I received no further information about this.

-Just a few months after this beating, Crebbs was stabbed four times by another inmate. He survived. I received no further
information about this.

-After a few years, Crebbs was killed in prison by another inmate. Once again, I received no further information about this, nor did I care. This is a typical end for a psychopath.

******

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com 

This is excerpted from Hock’s non-fiction memoirs Dead Right There, the sequel to Don’t Even Think About It.  Paperback or ebook Get them here 

 

Moving Off While Drawing and Shooting

Live fire shooters are often encumbered with moving drills and skills because of safety issues. If a line of shooters do a “step and shoot” drill, the instructor sometimes looks like a chorus line choreographer. You know the routine. Draw while stepping to the right and shoot. Draw while stepping to the left and shoot. With just a step, shooters are still maintaining a rather frontal, full-body, target offering to an enemy – especially if they shoot with two hands – and not turning to say, run while drawing. If moving is key? If moving to cover is vital? Shouldn’t we be busting off right or left?

     These answers can be better examined with simulated ammo guns, interactively. But, once you do these “step-and-shoot” drills with an actual opponent shooting back at you, and the opponent is fairly close, you begin to realize that the idea is not as successful as conceptualized. The other guys still shoots you rather easily. This is not to say you shouldn’t shoot and move, it’s rather to say, don’t expect miracles.

     Miracles like…invisibility! Invisability? There are very prominent instructors who still adhere to the cardboard tube theory of stress. They believe that when stressed out,  adreanlized, their vision becomes blinding, tunnel vision. Essential a cardboard tube. 

     They actually use the term “cardboard tube.” And they teach that if you move aside, even just a step, you will become invisible to your opponent. They use the word “invisible.” This cardboard tube idea has been disproven, and replaced by simple “target focus,” and simple “attention focus” explanations. You are looking at, zeroing in on, what’s important that second and your memory is not recording surrounding outside things and events for that second. Remember that researchers can only ask questions of your memory of incidents after the event, and base their “tubular” conclusions on your memory. You were not blind. You were just focused. The cardboard tube analogy is rather misleading nonsense and confuses reality and students.

      Right-handed, American football quarterbacks are admired when they dash to the right and throw well “cross-body.” Coaches say this is a special skill. Most times they can throw better as they dash to left and not throw cross-body. I think the same applies to shooting pistols. Will your opponent be right-handed (9 out of 10 people) and naturally choose to step or dash to their left and avoid the cross-body awkwardness? What direction will you “naturally” run in? Will you step or will you dash?

     (Oh, and by the way, a study of captured videos, body cams etc, show quite a number of shooters who DON’T move and just stand and shoot, and win, too!)

    Get the sims guns out and get busy!

******

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

This is a segment form Hock’s upcoming book, Footwork and Maneuvering:  From the “Ring to the Obstacle Course” with Applications to Indoor and Outdoor Rural, Suburban and Urban Surfaces – due out in Fall, 2018

Pistol Disarms, Etc. in the Land of NO-Guns.

I do hear the…

– “I’ll never have a gun, so why should I…” and,
– “I can’t/don’t own a gun, so why should I…” and,
– “I don’t like guns (or knives), so I’ll NEVER have one.”
– You get the picture. The blind, never-never land excuse.

     …speeches from all the world.  People doing self-defense yet don’t want to hear anything about guns (or knives too). It is ironic because many of the naysay, narrators also do various forms of Krav Maga –  systems often chock, so chock full of pistol disarms, and some from the most bizarre positions.

     Whether you are a person doing martial arts that are supposed to be realistic too, or a Krav person, cop, or military, whatever, you are probably messing around with pistols and pistol disarms. Or you should be, even in the magical, lucky charms lands of NO-Gun.  You’ll maybe do disarms, but it ends there. Does it?

     No. With a pistol disarm, 2 things will happen to the gun after you disarm.

One – The gun will hit the “floor,” or…

Two – …the gun will now be in your hand. Are they virgin hands?

     This is the point I am trying to get to. AFTER the disarm. Do you have gun-virgin-hands? SUDDENLY, no matter who you are, and where you live? What you say and think – you are now suddenly, like it or not, a “gun guy!” Do you know which end of the gun the bullet comes out of? How this gun works? Do you know where the “on and off” switch is (as USA Gun-God Clint Smith has nicknamed the safety. Is there one?) Does the gun need a real, quick, common, simple “fix.” You know what they are? 

     And if the recently disarmed guy comes back for his lost gun? Now you have to worry about your “pistol retention” vs his “pistol recovery.” (two old, decades, decades old terms in the gun-fighting world. Ever heard of them? Heard of one? Not the other? ) These terms not in your language?  

     The history of war and crime is replete with people getting the guns of other people and knowing, or not knowing, how to use them.  Remember Tunisia? The Jihadist with a sub machine gun that killed all those people on the beach? The security guard with his own sub-gun, dropped the gun and ran away. A tourist to the rescue? A tourist picked up the sub-gun to kill the bad guy and…and…well…jeez. Couldn’t work it. The tourist was from a NO-gun country and probably never thought he would see, hold or use a gun. Surprise!

     Aron Takac, an instructor in Serbia says ” I remember the seminar in 2011. The instructor was currently one of the most wanted in the shooting industry, and he was talking about rifle disarms. Two guys from Norway said, “There are no guns in our country, we don’t need this”. Not two months later Utaya Island attack happened. Breivik killed 77 people.”  There is a long, international list of such events.

     It is a hand, stick, knife, gun world. No matter where you live. No matter what the local laws are. As a result of this reality, I have been teaching “gun-arm grappling” with any kind of simulated ammo guns I can get my hands on for over 20 years now, as far away as Australia. And yet, for some people this stuff is new…or fairly new? Invented in the last few years or so. It is not new. As another famous gun instructor Dave Spaulding likes to say, “It’s not new. It’s just new to you.”

     Gun crimes occur EVERYWHERE in the world. And, ever hear of terrorism? In the “who, what, where, when, how and why” of life, it is important to predict and prioritize your high stat encounters. Even in the NO-gun world around you. Sure. Prioritize, but not ignore realities. It has and will, behoove all so-called, “self defense” practitioners to do some work on, to deal with, hand, stick, knife, gun while standing, kneeling/seated and on the ground. Or just realize what you are doing a sport for a hobby with some very good or perhaps bad abstract benefits.

     Prioritize. A good instructor organizing a class, thinks of these things as training time minutes and, or percentages. No matter the subject. How many minutes in night class? How many hours in a day class? How many days in a week class, should be spent on any particular subject? It’s the totally ignoring something by way of thoughtless excuses  that is a doctrine problem.

     Sometimes I think about deathbed interviews of people. How many 75 or 80 year-old regular folks/citizens on their deathbed can say, “I’ve never been punched in the face. Why do so many people do these martial arts? Odds are they will never be punched in the face.” Most people. many people. Most people have never been a victim of crime, attacked or punched or shot at. Some cops got through their entire careers and are never punched in the mouth. Is this a “throw-down” excuse not to train…anything then? “Odds are it won’t happen? Why bother with unarmed vs unarmed material, then? Why bother with pistols? Why bother with anything then?  

So, please do re-think things about these excuse, throw-down lines – “I live in a country without guns, so I’ll never…”

Email Hock at HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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Knocked Out on the Ground From a Kick

    We all hear about how ground wrestlers shouldn’t wrestle in the proverbial “street fight,” and one reason name-dropped is the catch phrase “multiple opponents.”  In the win-some/lose-some in real life, our lives, my life, I have a pivotal story about this, and some lessons learned. I wound up in the hospital.

    Back in 1980 I and other officers were dispatched to a “big fight.” Two fraternities fighting in the basement of a large frat house. The college police were there and needing help. Who they gonna call? The city police. When we got there it was a mess. About 30 guys fighting in and out of the building. And so, we made our way into the melee and tried to…”stop it.”  It looked like the brawls I was use to as an Army MP when units would get drunk and fight, or just fight without getting drunk.

    So, this was not my first rodeo, so to speak. I got inside the large basement – which was actually the first floor – and tried separating people when suddenly for some reason, the rush of humanity pushed and pulled about 10 or fifteen of us down on the cement floor. It was as they say, asses and elbows, and everything else, including feet as I found out later. Kicks.

    Suddenly, I was knocked out. Other officers told me that they saw it happen. Another college guy got up into a crab walk position, crab walked a few feet over to me, from the crab, from behind my head, and thrust kicked me in the head. I never saw it coming, so to speak.

    Numerous people were arrested and my sergeant decided it was time to leave. He said,

“Somebody go over there and wake Hock up.”

    They said they slapped me awake. I was out, out cold in a nauseous dream. They told me I was out for about 15 minutes. Maybe 20. If you are in the “knock-out and brain business?” You know this is really bad. They helped me up and I stood, trying to unscramble my brains. I was floating on another planet as I got to my squad car, and I actually drove with the caravan back to the station. It was near the end of the evening shift. And I floated to my car, and sick and confused, and drove home.

    At home, I started vomiting and I couldn’t think straight. My wife drove me to the hospital with my head hanging out the window like a dog. They gave me drugs and kept me over night for observation. You know…concussion. It was a bad night of bad, whack-job thoughts. Two days later? Back to work.

    It’s funny but I can still remember part of what I was dreaming on the basement floor. I was at some carnival. If I try to hard to recall it? I can feel the beginnings of getting nauseous again. It’s a brain damage, rabbit hole. We counted up the times I have been knocked out and it comes to 14. Two car wrecks, two kick boxing, two boxing, I fell on some rickety, odd-shaped stairs trying to arrest a guy one night. Twice in baseball (odd stories) well 14 “I am out, bubba” incidents. Now brainey-ologists tell you that little mini-second black outs start adding up too. Oh crap! I have been tested to have brain damage with symptoms too complicated to explain here as a side issue.

    Part of me wonders, how anyone today can box, kick box, Thai, MMA long term and never be knocked out? Not once? I meet these “virgin” people. I guess it’s old school training that bazookas your brain? (I know the competitors get knocked out once in a while and they are really trying to limit that. I say “good.”)

    I learned that I can control the symptoms somewhat with good sleep (and solid REM dreaming) and a simple diet, and some daily, almost aspirin-like medication. I have an odd problem with dreams and it’s too long to explain here.

    But back to the main issue. I was knocked out on the ground by a kick in a multiple opponent scrap. And as I said starting out, we all hear about how ground wrestlers shouldn’t wrestle in the proverbial “street fight,” but I want to add that you absolutely must learn and hone wrestling/ground fighting. A mixed-weapon style with a consistent filter for survival.

    A real expert ground fighter, Catch, BJJ, etc. can and will still eat up your standing (or ground) incoming arms and legs into arm bars and leg bars. But, they have to be fast, AND…they see to see the damn things coming.  

Addendum: 

    “Hi Hock, i really enjoy your website.   It is definitely the best on the internet covering all areas of self defense.   In response to you being knocked out by a kick to the head, something similar happened to me, when i was with the PD prior to my retirement.   In the early hours of my shift on a weekend, several officers and i were dispatched to a large biker party, in a back yard.   Upon arrival, approximately 60 subjects were present.   There were 8 officers including myself present.   A fight began and one officer was on the ground attempting to handcuff a suspect.   I dropped to my knees to assist and the next thing i realized i was in the back of a patrol car in route to the hospital.   I had blood running out of my mouth and it felt like I had gravel in it.   Upon arrival, I was checked for injuries, and the gravel turned out to be shattered teeth.   I had been kicked under the jaw by some punk with steel toed boots.        Three of my bottom back molars on each side were shattered from slamming my jaw together.   The guy went to jail and got 30 days.   To this very day i have TMJ but things could have been worse.  Take care and stay safe.”   Doug Boal, RET..

******

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

True Texas detective and police stories. Get the paperbacks or the downloads. Click here.

Your Head Might Explode?

(I thought I would add this here, from my response to a friend’s entry elsewhere about “what and why” they teach at their school)

It’s tricky – this school mission, as well as personal mission statement.

     The school – the school business needs to stay alive and offer many things. People have diverse interests and hobbies. I always say that no matter how important I think what I teach is…in the end, I am still but an obscure, organizer and administer of hobbies. People’s hobbies shift and change. You will be replaced by things like tennis.

     Otherwise on a personal “fighting” level, you can collect 15 different ways to do one thing. Like a collector. But, your head will eventually explode with all these flavored options. You will…as they say…”lose your way.” Or you can study the “15” things to find the best way to do that one thing. (or at times, construct the best thing from the “15 experience.”) Checkers, not chess.

     When constructing my Force Necessary program, the very name of the thing, begs the question, “If there is a “Force Necessary,” then there must be a “Force UN-necessary,” angle to it. This gave me a clear mission statement to work on. To search for the “15” things to find the 1 thing. So, you, I, can never stop searching for the better way, whether we are survivalists or hobbyists seeking fun and more fun. Or for just the physical exercise of it. We are standing out there on the floor learning new things.

     This “checkers from chess search” creates generic tenets and certain mandatories. We need a mature, experienced filter to sift through all this stuff, to ask those questions and determine,

“That won’t work.”
“That is just not necessary.”

     I will never ridicule someone’s hobbies, as long as they know what they are doing is a hobby. For example medieval sword fighting is not going to help a cop or citizen in an ambush. I pick extremes here, but there are martial arts/schools chock full of unnecessary things.

     One of my seasoned friends was at a martial fad/pop-star martial arts seminar recently, at a tomahawk session, and frustrated with all the razzle-dazzle shown, he asked the pop-star, 

“Why not just hit the guy in the head?
“Where’s the fun in that?” the pop star answered.

     And there you have it.

************

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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“We Wuz Here First!” “We Wuz Here Last!”

     There is a clever meme and some quotes going around now that claim “you can’t have an illegal alien on stolen ground.” You know – words to that effect. You can’t declare someone an illegal alien if you stole the ground, kind of message. Very esoteric. But historically shallow. And not realistic.

     Think for a moment about ALL the civilizations of the world, world history since…since the beginning. Think of the travel. The wars. The kingdoms. The empires. They do come and go through time. Animals even fought for turf. One of the first “smart” books I read decades ago as a teen was Ardrey’s “The Territorial Imperative.” I think his ants/bugs, animal/human research still stands (please tell me if otherwise?). Life fights for territory, and life fights to keep it.

     Tribes. Churches. Governments. EVERYONE through time, took the lands and the people of everyone else in a never-ending, geographic, musical chairs. Enslaving. Killing. Maiming. Controlling. Who are the original owners of what anymore? (I have been following some work – see below – that even native American genes have European DNA.)

     Before memes, decades ago, there were expressions going around (without the web? How? But somehow “going around”) that – the “guys with the biggest guns are always in charge.” Words to that effect.

     There is plenty of evidence that mankind is getting safer, less violent and better. But, then and even right now, it seems the guys with the biggest guns, biggest gates, biggest walls get to call the “whose-in, whose-out, shots, no matter who was there before, no matter how much it philosophically/esoterically “smarts.”

“We wuz here first!”
“Yeah, well…we wuz here last.”

     It’s nice to make clever memes and all with Indians and Eskimos and so forth. In just about any country you could have memes with the “pre-race/group” people, before the church, or the Romans, the Zulus, or the vikings, or whoever marched in to wherever. But the memes don’t mean much in the “guns-gates-walls” equation.

     This is no excuse to screw over people, nor any justification for past, present, or future war, trauma, drama. I am just reminding the poetic, esoterics/memers of short-history perspective. How far back do you want to go? “Who had the last “lease?” And the lease before that? And the lease before that?

(Hey, please email me with any pristine lands or islands you can think of with their absolute original occupants still there, but also free of war, even tribal war. Interesting to collect a list.)

*****

More on this – Audrey’s The Territorial Imperative 

*****

More on this – Diamond’s Gun , Germs, Steel

******

Hock’s email HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

And more words like this? Get the Book Fightin’ Words. Paperback or e-book